Raith Rovers return for Lewis Vaughan after "hardest seven months of my life"

Raith Rovers striker Lewis Vaughan made his comeback from the bench on Saturday. Pic: Michael Gillen
Raith Rovers striker Lewis Vaughan made his comeback from the bench on Saturday. Pic: Michael Gillen

There was double delight for Raith Rovers as Lewis Vaughan made his long-awaited return from injury in Saturday's 2-0 win over Falkirk.

A brace of penalties from Regan Hendry secured progress into the fourth round of the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Cup, with Vaughan's 72nd minute introduction from the bench the icing on the cake for the Kirkcaldy side.

Lewis Vaughan struck the crossbar with this free-kick just minutes after coming off the bench. Pic: Michael Gillen

Lewis Vaughan struck the crossbar with this free-kick just minutes after coming off the bench. Pic: Michael Gillen

The popular striker has been out of action for seven and a half months following knee surgery, and he came agonisingly close to completing a dream comeback within minutes of his return with a stunning long-range free-kick that struck the crossbar.

"I couldn't have got much closer," he said. "I was just delighted to get back playing again - it's been a long time.

"Physically it's been hard keeping myself in shape but mentally it's even worse.

"Just not being able to do things, and when you first come back you struggle.

"I can't explain how hard it's been."

It is the second time the 23-year-old has battled back from a cruciate ligament injury and he revealed he has been receiving counselling to prepare him for his latest comeback.

"I've been speaking to a guy called Football Mindset in Scotland, who's been helping me in the past month or so, giving me a lot of encouragement and self belief," he said.

"I've been trying not to think too much about the injuries and just remind myself why I do stuff like this, especially for days like this when I was so close to coming back and scoring.

"It's been a long recovery - probably the hardest seven months of my life - but I'll get there.

"I now just need to get match fit because there's a lot to play for."

Saturday was Vaughan's first appearance at Stark's Park since scoring a Scottish Cup hat-trick against Dunfermline on January 19 - he was injured just a week later in Brechin.

"It was probably the best day of my career to the worst day within seven days," he said.

"It just shows you the type of game football is - it takes no prisoners."

Rovers boss John McGlynn was delighted to get Vaughan back on the pitch and hopes he will be ready to start the next league match at home to Peterhead this Saturday.

"He's been training for a wee while now, and he's been awesome - different class," he said.

"It's the consultants that have held him back but he's well ahead of schedule.

"We got 55 minutes out him in a bounce game we arranged just for him last week and he'll get another 80 minutes or so in another bounce game this week, then he should be available for selection against Peterhead.

"It's a big boost for Lewis himself, and for the club, because's he's a massive player for us."